It was the encouragement and unwavering support from his customers and friends, Charles Kapsner and Dr. Phil and Susy Prosapio, that led Tony Armagost of Little Falls to purchase the contents of a local framing business and start his own “Tony’s Custom Framing and Furniture Restoration.”
For a time, Dave Burggraff, owner of “Dave’s Custom Framing” trained Armagost, mainly in matting and simply learning what people like.
Since Dave’s Custom Framing was located inside Lin’s Furniture in Little Falls for many years, all Armagost needed was to find a new location. He chose the historic building in downtown Little Falls where “The Ideal Steam Laundry” once was.
“It was a laundry business from 1905 until about 1978. Technology changed from steam to dry cleaning at some point, but the usage of this building, we think, remained the same,” he said.
But for the last near 40 years, the building was used as a cold storage facility.
Made of only brick, there were no interior walls and no ceiling.
With funds available through the Historic Preservation Commission, the work to rehabilitate the old building began. Armagost knew the store front needed to be updated.
“It had a modern store front on it for its era and we wanted something that looked good and would last,” he said.
One surprise Armagost didn’t anticipate was that there was a gap in the exterior wall that wasn’t discovered until the store front’s metal panels were removed.
“It was wide open and went up 13 feet,” he said.
A glass door front and a handicapped-accessible sidewalk were installed.
Inside the store, Armagost added a few interior walls, some with panels and 8-inch floor bases and a paneled ceiling.
“Once we started the paneling in the ceiling, we thought it would look good with a traditional paneling on the wall. We really wanted to keep the history,” Armagost said.
Even though Armagost put a lot of the finishing touches on, he points out that the carpenter he hired did a great job.
“We had a great carpenter. He built the structure out front, put our paneling
system on, put in new sub-floors and more. What you see is great, but there is so much he did in the building that you can’t see,” Armagost said.
During the renovation, Armagost discovered an old counter from the 1930s that was screwed to the wall in the back of the building. As it was in a very rough condition, Armagost’s background in cabinet making and woodworking came in handy, he said.
Inside the store, Armagost has chosen to go with a gallery-like atmosphere to portray artworks by various local artists, such as world-renowned Charles Kapsner and Robert McCoy.
“We even have some of the early sketches of the fresco Charles did at Lindbergh Elementary School here in Little Falls, hanging on the wall,” Armagost said.
Armagost offers his customers several services, such as restoring, refinishing and finishing furniture, custom making frames, matting and framing images. He also has hundreds of various frame models to help customers find something they like.
Tony’s First Avenue Custom Framing and Furniture Restoration is located at 118 First Avenue, Little Falls.
Those who want more information, may contact Armagost at (320) 630-6944.